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Guide to Laser Resurfacing

Posted Mar 04 2009 12:00am

How is Laser Resurfacing Performed?

Laser skin resurfacing uses a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser to remove skin layers by vaporization rather than with chemicals or a sanding device. Dr Shah is able to specify the amount of energy transmitted to the skin's surface by the laser beam and control the depth of penetration.

What kind of conditions can Laser Resurfacing treat?

Any of the following conditions may indicate that you might be a good candidate for Laser Resurfacing.

  • wrinkled or sun-damaged facial skin
  • vertical wrinkles around your mouth, such as those that cause lipstick "bleed"
  • "crow's feet" lines around your eyes and perhaps some skin laxity in your lower eyelid area
  • fine wrinkling of your upper eyelids
  • brown spots or blotchy skin coloring
  • certain precancerous skin growths
  • acne or chicken pox scars
  • superficial facial scars from a past injury

Like the other resurfacing methods, the laser is effective in treating wrinkles, blotchiness or age spots, and scars from acne or other causes. It can be used on the entire face or specific areas. Certain other characteristics of your skin, such as its thickness and texture, may influence whether you are a good candidate for laser resurfacing. Some patients may benefit from the laser's mild "tightening" effect on the skin, particularly in the lower eyelid area where the skin often becomes somewhat loose as a result of aging.

Doctor Consultation: what to ask about laser skin resurfacing

In addition to History and a Physical Examination, the following will be performed.

Skin Evaluation: You should be carefully examined to determine which resurfacing technique, or combination of treatments, will provide you with the best results. Your skin type, the severity of any sun damage, the extent of uneven pigmentation and the depth of skin imperfections will be evaluated. Fine lines, coarse wrinkling or deep acne scarring each may require a different approach to treatment.

Medical History: You should come to the consultation prepared to discuss your medical history. This will include information about any medical conditions, drug allergies, medical treatments you have received, previous surgeries, and medications that you currently take. Be sure to tell your plastic surgeon if you have ever had x-ray treatments of your facial skin such as those used in the treatment of acne or if you have had a prior chemical peeling procedure. Current or past use of AccutaneT, as well as Retin-AT and other topical skin preparations, must be reported to us. For your safety, it is important that you provide complete information.

Getting ready for Laser Resurfacing

We may may place you on a pretreatment program during which you will apply special creams, lotions or gels to your skin for a few weeks or longer. You may also be given certain oral medications that you should begin taking prior to your treatment. We will provide you with additional instructions.

You should arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure and probably assist you for a day or two.

During Laser Resurfacing

Medications will be administered for your comfort prior to the treatment. Frequently, local anesthesia alone or combined with oral analgesics is used for patients undergoing skin resurfacing procedures.

After Laser Resurfacing

When the treatment is completed, your resurfaced skin may be covered with petroleum jelly or other protective ointment. In some cases, dressings, tape or a bandage may be applied.

Recovery from Laser Resurfacing

It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals. We will probably see you on multiple occasions in the first two weeks.

First few days: Laser skin resurfacing will produce redness and swelling to varying degrees. Depending on the post treatment regimen selected by your plastic surgeon, a scab may or may not form over the treated area. You will be advised about cleansing your skin, as well as if and when you should apply any ointments. In the case of men who have undergone resurfacing procedures, shaving must be delayed for a while. It is essential that you follow our instructions and avoid doing anything that might interrupt the healing process.

Within 7 to 10 days: New skin will have begun to form. After the initial redness subsides, your skin may be pink for several weeks to months. Camouflage makeup usually can be used within a couple of weeks, but we will advise you.

Depending on the type and depth of your skin resurfacing, straining, bending and lifting should be avoided during the early period following your procedure. For deeper resurfacing, you should be able to return to work within a week or two.

Results: what to expect from Laser Resurfacing

Because of the persistence of skin pinkness following many types of resurfacing procedures, it may take months before you can fully appreciate your new look. Most patients feel that the results are definitely worth waiting for and, in the case of deeper treatments, the benefits are relatively long-lasting. More superficial resurfacing treatments may need to be repeated periodically in order to maintain their benefits.

Your skin will, of course, continue to age. Also the type of wrinkles caused by movement of your facial muscles will eventually reappear. Some wrinkles may recur sooner than others, depending on their location as well as the type and extent of your resurfacing treatment. Despite this, you can expect that improvements in skin quality and texture achieved by resurfacing will make your complexion appear younger and fresher for many years to come.

Laser Resurfacing side effects

The subject of risks and potential complications of laser resurfacing is best discussed on a personal basis.

Potential risks include:

  • infection
  • abnormal healing
  • allergic reactions
  • if prone to herpes, possible eruption
  • raised or thickened scarring
  • unanticipated skin color changes or skin blotchiness

Following all resurfacing treatments, it is important that you avoid direct or indirect exposure to the sun until all the redness or pinkness of your skin has subsided. Even after that, it is advisable for you to protect your skin by regular use of a sunblock and, whenever possible, a wide-brimmed hat. If the area around your eyes has been treated, you should wear good quality sunglasses when outdoors. After some types of skin resurfacing treatments, you may need to be careful about exposing your skin to chlorinated water.

You can minimize certain risks and help to maintain the results of your skin resurfacing treatment by following the instructions given to you.

Laser Resurfacing cost

Laser Resurfacing cost can vary widely due to the nature of the laser used and the area being treated.

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